The Department of History at Auburn University is committed to building an environment that reflects the values of diversity and inclusion. Building a climate of diversity and inclusion is essential because students, faculty and staff in the department come from different walks of life in terms of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identities, sexual orientations, religious and non-religious perspectives, disability status, and political beliefs.
We believe the development of a diverse and inclusive department is the fruit of collective effort. It is our responsibility as faculty to set the tone in the classroom and to lead efforts to recruit more undergraduate students and graduate students from a variety of backgrounds. Once every new student enters our classroom and our department, it is our job to foster a climate that allows all students to feel welcome and to thrive. We will be diligent in our efforts to retain students from all backgrounds by listening to everyone who has experienced marginalization within our department and classes and devising transparent strategies to support them.
We not only value an array of perspectives—we believe that our department and profession thrive because of them. Collegiality is central to our profession. Critical thinking and thoughtful discussion deepen our understanding of history and enhances our teaching and scholarship. We encourage supporting our arguments and scholarship with verifiable evidence, whether we are relying upon peer-reviewed scholarship or primary and secondary sources.
The history classroom and profession are where we learn to use sources to engage in difficult conversations about the past. We take building community within our classes very seriously. A rigorous interrogation of any history is impossible if students experience discrimination, bias or harassment. We will not tolerate any of these acts of harm.
The present is not lost on us while we study the past. We pay attention to the implications of how our communities and the world are changing. Transformations in technology, medicine, politics, culture, demographics and the environment forces all of us to look to the past to understand the complexities of our contemporary moment. Also, demands for more social equality advanced from the margins of society are also forcing us to reckon with challenging aspects of history. Part of this reckoning, sometimes, requires us to comment on, and address, past harms in our department, in the university and to groups of people historically marginalized in the United States. This can include, but is not limited to, examining Auburn University’s and the town’s relationships to various exclusionary forces such as enslavement, settler-colonialism, patriarchy and segregation. We will also, however, highlight local peoples’ achievements, including contributions to expanding human rights.
Engaging in pressing contemporary conversations requires us to support the principle of academic freedom grounded in our First Amendment rights. Protecting academic freedom also mandates supporting our students who exercise their first amendment rights.